Sunday, August 29, 2010

Adventures of 7-4-Foxtrot

Alice's earliest memories of flying are from trips in 7-4-Foxtrot, a.k.a. a white and orange Mooney. Way back in the late 1960's and early 1970's, she would wait on a wing while her Dad pre-flighted. Inside, it always smelled of cigarettes and Wrigley's Spearmint gum. Her sister, Catherine, was always in back with her while their Dad sat up front as pilot-in-command with Mom as a fully capable radio-operator and lander. Mom never was interested in learning how to take-off an airplane....

A trip in Summer 1970 to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone is now dimming in Alice's mind. She can't remember which places were visited first. In her mind, she has very strong memories of seeing the Grand Tetons across a river. They seemed rather small to her after having first flown over the Sierra Nevadas many times and walking in Yosemite in Winter and Summer.

It was HOT, HOT, HOT in the Tetons. Driving by (or through?) an archway of shed elk anters. Hot and dry walking to their rooms in a long line of cottages right next to the Jackson Lake Lodge. Each cottage with a funny wood screen sheltering a little porch. A horseride up into the Teton's foothills for an evening cowboy BBQ. Alice remembers the black and white pinto coat of the horse she rode. For years and years she remembered his name.... but can't think of it now.

Yellowstone - the view from the plane of the green, blue, yellow, orange and red hot springs is still there in the mind. Waiting in a crowd for Old Faithful to blow. The sound of it whooshing - Alice thinks she could play the tone of it on the piano. That sound is still there. (If you click on the photo of the sign you will see Catherine holding Francis! FWIW: Francis is NOT one of the troll orphans in the movie Toy Story 3 but one of her distant cousins is.)

Looking into the Yellowstone river canyon from a road - OK, thought Alice - but all things considered - one *should* be nice - Yosemite's falls are prettier. Alice would like to go back there and spend more time preferably in Winter in a self-driven one-horse open sleigh with blankets. (Pabu says, I would like to see and sniff a buffalo from a very safe distance! And pay my respects to that Faithful thing as one faithful creature to another.)

Pika's people are in Jackson Hole as I write this. With a new ukulele of all things! I think she would be happy to have a ride in a Mooney over Jackson Lake and to swoop over Yellowstone. And, listen to a new uke tune about her own adventures in the Tetons. But really, I know she would prefer to have a photo op in the same spot her Catherine stood in front of the Tetons when she was the same age Pika is now. I'm sure she could sniff out that exact spot.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Uncle John

Here is a photo of Alice's Uncle John Redmond before he went over to Europe for WWII. John was more of a Zen master than even me, a Tibetan spaniel! Alice says she's only ever met one other person with that sort of calm in humans: Ralph Smith, he who survived WWI trenches and WWII Saipan...

John served as a medic with Patton. He was there at the Moselle River on August 31, 1944 - just about 66 years ago today - when Patton's troops ground to a halt running out of gas while Ike sent the available gas to Montgomery who was not so fast as Patton.

I am sure John would have been very glad for that break at the Moselle - one of the few breaks he got while with Patton. A serendipidous Summer vacation.

WWII Army medics could take up arms to defend their patients. John did so when he had to despite being a signed and certified conscientious objector. He cleared out many German machine guns nests and organized at least one battlefield truce to clear the dead and wounded off. He came back to the USA with a silver star, a bronze star, and an Iron Cross, too. He gave them all away to neighbor kids. I think he knew the true meaning of those ribbons... So many had died all around him.... Life is so short for us all.

On a late Summer day in August in California in the year 2010 it's truly hard to imagine such large armies shooting at each other every day for months and months. I look to the Sun, let its warmth soak my fur coat and am so grateful I've never had to be in a shooting war in my home.